Savannah's Front Porch Improv manages to keep things funny and fresh with a variety of shows that utilize different approaches to improv comedy. Now they are training up to introduce a new show, “Best Movie Ever,” with the help of New York comedian and improviser Will Nunziata.
Nunziata, who has appeared on Adult Swim, Comedy Central and MTV, has been perfecting the live movie style of improv for the past six years.
“We were excited that Will was coming down to visit some family, so we put together a little improv intensive so that he can teach eight or 10 of us how to do an improvised movie, and then we’re going to debut it right after that intensive,” says John Brennan, co-artistic director of Front Porch Improv.
Nunziata recognized the comic potential for a live movie format when he was working with the house team at The PIT (Peoples Improv Theater) in New York City. “I noticed that everyone in the group was always talking in movie terms,” says Nunziata. “I don’t think anyone at that time was really doing the movie regularly, so it kind of fit perfectly. These people, who all know and understand the language of movies, get to put on a narrative improv show.”
Before working directly with the Front Porch cast, Nunziata has been sending them homework, such as movies and articles, to teach them the common tropes and structures of genre movies, so that they can easily implement them on stage. Sometimes the assigned movies are not the cream of the crop.
“The truth is, with doing this form, bad movies show their cards a lot better,” Nunziata explains. “A bad rom-com is a perfect example because it shows you boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. That’s exactly what we need to do. We have to break down that entire structure of a movie and get it done, on our feet, in 30 minutes.”
Sometimes the results of a performance are so successful that the performers ask themselves, “Why isn’t this a real movie?”
Nunziata recalls a rehearsal where all of the elements aligned for what would make a great Hollywood pitch. “It was called ‘Christmas Bars’ and it was about Santa being arrested and bringing Christmas to everyone in jail. It hit all the prison tropes in movies and yet, it’s a Christmas-magic movie. It was perfect.”
When Nunziata performs in New York, he spins a wheel with as many as 16 different genres on it. Since the Front Porch gang only has 72 hours to prepare for their debut, they are starting off easy.
“Horror, action, and rom-com are common ones. Since it’s our premiere show, we’re going to be focused on perfecting those beats,” says Brennan. “Of course, we’ll build up over the year.”
Nunziata adds, “Just wait until you get to Southern Gothic. It’s a trip.”
For “Best Movie Ever,” Front Porch will perform two movies, each with three acts, a trailer, and “mind-blowing special effects.”
“We’re working closely with ILM,” Nunziata says jokingly. “They’ll be doing all of the CGI for the show.”
With Nunziata’s expertise and the cast’s intense preparation, "Best Movie Ever” promises to be a fun and unique experience. As Nunziata always tells his audience, “If you didn’t know if you wanted to go out and see a movie or a comedy show tonight, you’re in luck, because you’re seeing both.”